CUNA, Bank Trades Back Patent Bill
CUNA, the American Bankers Association and the Independence Community Bankers of America have teamed up to support the proposed Transparency in Assertion of Patents Act (S. 2049).
“S. 2049 would clarify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s authority to help fight back against deceptive practices by requiring basic information be included in letters sent by patent trolls,” said their letter to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Ranking Member John Thune (R-S.D.) on Thursday.
“The required information is elementary, such as the owner of the patent and specific technology involved. This will help the victims of trolls to quickly and inexpensively understand the infringement claim and how best to respond to it,” the letter also said.
Rockefeller and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) are sponsoring the bill.
The financial trade groups applauded the bill for tackling the problem of “unfair and deceptive” demand letters while allowing legitimate patent holders to exercise their patent rights.
“S. 2049 would also benefit legitimate patent holders because the FTC would be allowed to specify exactly what constitutes a deceptive demand letter. This would provide patent holders with certainty of how to assert a patent without any risk that it could be labeled unfair or deceptive,” the trade groups wrote.
“Civil penalties would be imposed on those that continue to send out ‘bad faith’ demand letters, with exceptions provided for communications between parties on existing licensing agreements,” their letter also said.
The organizations said there are many examples of patent trolls using fraud or extortion to sell patent licenses to a bank or credit union.
“Financial institutions, especially small institutions, are not familiar with the patent system,” they wrote. “Rather, banks and credit unions are in the business of managing risk, and in targeting small institutions that may not have a lawyer on staff competent to evaluate the claims, patent demand letters reach a captive mass of people afraid of getting sued.”
Brad Thaler, NAFCU vice president of legislative affairs, spoke to CU Times about why his trade association was not included in the letter.
“NAFCU is in support of the bill and will be sending our own letter on it. It was originally scheduled for mark-up this week, but was postponed until next week. We thought it would be best to send our own letter of support in conjunction with the mark-up in case there were any late developments," he said.